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Email marketing is one of the most effective ways for commercial insurance agents to turn prospects into clients, deepen relationships with existing clients, and improve policy renewal rates. Whether you’re just starting out with email marketing or aren’t seeing the results you’d expect, our guide on email marketing for insurance agents will help you better understand the tool, provide tips to assist you, and when implemented, should improve the results of your efforts.
In general, email tends to be a natural fit as a marketing channel for commercial insurance agents because it’s likely you are already communicating with clients through your work email – sending policy renewal information, sharing quotes, etc. And, prospects and clients are already accustomed to doing business with brands through email.
In fact according to SaleCycle, “59% of [people] said that marketing emails influence their purchase decisions, while just over 50% buy from marketing emails at least once a month.” Email marketing should be at the top of your marketing priority list because it’s efficient, effective, and offers personalized communication without much effort.
Still, email marketing isn’t successful by default. The best email marketing for insurance agents includes highly targeted, engaging messaging that strikes the right balance between being promotional and supportive. Getting there requires agents to:
- Clarify goals
- Continually build and clean their lists
- Experiment with different messaging strategies
- Analyze results
Set Goals for Your Email Marketing
Before you jump into sending emails, you should first clarify what you want to achieve with your email marketing. The more specific you can be, the more you can craft your strategies and messaging to reach those goals.
Email marketing is designed to get people to act. By taking the time to determine your goals you’re taking the first step to creating a foundation for success with email marketing.
Invest in an ESP
Did you know that sending marketing emails through your personal work email is a no-no? Don’t worry. A lot of business owners don’t know that. That’s where an ESP comes in. ESP stands for Email Service Provider and it is a digital platform that takes the time-consuming work out of email marketing. In fact, ESPs are a powerful investment because they offer tools to help you build lists, provide templates you can customize, create automated emails, ensure you are in compliance with CAN-SPAM, and so much more.
Additionally, ESPs provide valuable analytics that enables you to analyze everything from the growth of your email list to the success of different types of messages. Analyzing the results will help you to improve your next email. Using sites like Capterra, you can review different ESPs to see which ones have the right mix of features and pricing for your needs.
Email Marketing Best Practices
Before you send out your first email campaign, review the list below of best practices you should follow when creating your marketing emails. Adhering to these will not only help your emails perform better, but also ensure your sending reputation is not harmed in the process.
- Follow CAN-SPAM – this law makes sure anyone who does not want to receive marketing emails won’t. It protects the customer.
- Test emails – there are many ways to test your email, but the most common is testing your subject line. By creating two different subject lines, you can review which one was more effective and apply that knowledge to the next email.
- Avoid SPAM triggers – this can include specific words, using all caps, using too many exclamation points, multiple fonts, and colors, etc.
- Build a clean list – allowing people to opt themselves into receiving your email and removing people who are not engaged with your emails.
- Send at optimal day and times – while there are general days and times (e.g., Tuesday at 10 am), this will actually depend on your audience. Analyze the results and look at when the most people are opening your email.
- Use personalization – this is something an ESP can assist with. They are able to create an option to dynamically include data, such as someone’s first name or company, in the email
- Include clear call-to-action (CTA) buttons – a CTA is the thing you want someone to do when they read your email. Whether it’s to click through to read an article, sign up for an event, or check out a new product or service. Your email should have one main CTA.
- Measure and analyze – ESPs include data that allow you to see sent emails versus delivered, as well as the number of opens and clicks, plus much more.
- Use branded from and reply-to email address – don’t use a no-reply email address – by including an email address that someone responds to it signals to Internet Service Providers (ISP)(Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.) that you are actively responding to emails. This helps your email bypass the spam filter and reach your recipient’s inbox.
- Include your logo – this helps reader’s identify who you are and know that the email is coming from a trusted source.
- Use relevant imagery – imagery helps break up text, and can help convey your message.
While not exhaustive, you can use this list to help guide the decisions you make about your marketing emails.
List Building and Segmentation
Once you have your goals in place and you’ve set-up your ESP, you can focus on building your email list so you have an audience to receive and read your emails. There are many ways to build your list – a sign-up on your website, a link in your email, a button on social media. Some sources even suggest buying email lists (we don’t recommend buying email lists).
Email List Buying
In general, tactics like buying lists can do more harm than good. As email marketing platform Campaign Monitor explains, bought email lists can cause many issues for you such as negatively impacting your sender reputation (which affects your ability to send emails) and creating a poor experience for the recipient. In addition, there is no guarantee that the email is up-to-date or even valid.
Build Your List Organically
You’re better off focusing on building a list of contacts organically. These are people who choose to receive your marketing messages and who fit your target audience. Having a list of 10, 50, or 100 business owners who want to hear from you is far more effective in helping you reach your goals, than a list of 10,000 people who have no interest or purchasing power for your policies.
To build your list, make sure you include opt-in options wherever your potential customers might find you, particularly on your website and social media. For example, you could have a simple form on your website where a visitor enters their name and email address to start receiving communications from your company. You could also include a link within your regular email signature so that your current contacts can opt-in to your email marketing list. Furthermore, you can get creative with tactics like hosting a webinar; as attendees sign up, you can include an option for them to click a button to agree to receive your email marketing messages.
In some cases, you might also want to use the double-opt-in method, where someone who initially opts in would get a confirmation email to join your list. Doing so could help comply with local regulations or simply ensure the validity of an email address, as email marketing platform Mailchimp explains.
Once you start collecting email addresses, you’ll want to divide them up into smaller lists. This is called segmentation. You can do this based on someone’s role within a company, by industry, or other data points. One way to collect this information is to request it on your sign-up form. If you are a Wheelhouse user (the digital platform by Talage), you can export your list of business owners and then segment them by industry, geography, whether they completed the application process, and more. As the email marketing platform, Constant Contact explains, segmented lists lead to more than twice as many email opens and clicks compared with general lists.
Email Marketing Campaigns and Content
Email marketing is more than just blasting people with promotions, offers, or sales pitches. It’s one component in a broader marketing strategy and should complement the other work you’re doing. Furthermore, it’s a balance between providing informative or educational content and peppering in your promotions at the right time. In addition, there are many different types of emails you can send.
- Welcome – this can be sent when someone signs up for your newsletter list or when they sign on as a new client.
- Newsletter – this may include articles you’ve written, announcements, or other important information.
- Offer – If you have a new product or service you want to drive interest in, sending an email with a specific offer is a good way to generate traffic and leads.
- Survey – If you want to learn directly from your customers ask them. There are companies like Survey Monkey that can help you create a survey and you can include the link in your email.
- Transactional – a transactional email is usually a receipt of purchase, account notification, etc.
These are just a few of the types of emails you can send to your lists. The best email marketing for insurance agents tends to be personalized and helpful to your audience, rather than overly promotional. As Campaign Monitor explains, “The insurance industry is centered around serving people during tough times. That’s why it’s so important for insurance companies to build rapport with their customers during better times.”
That means that instead of just sending out email blasts asking subscribers to purchase a policy, provide value in your messages. For example, if you wanted to increase workers’ comp policies could include helpful tips to stay safe at work within a monthly newsletter, or provide a roundup of recent articles on how to improve work productivity. This way your audience finds value in your communication without always feeling like you are trying to sell them something.
Furthermore, you can integrate subtle tie-ins to your offerings, like including a sentence within the body of the email or at the end on how readers can easily purchase a policy that fits their needs. Wheelhouse users can link the text to their custom Wheelhouse application. Email readers simply click the link and can get instant quotes for policies, rather than needing to schedule a call to request a quote.
It’s important to understand how your emails and email campaigns are performing. Reviewing the results of individual sends as well as groups of sends (such as newsletters) can tell you a lot about your audience and how your emails are perceived.
Sends vs. Delivered
When you send an email to a list that doesn’t mean every single person will receive your email. The percentage of people who received your email is known as the deliverability rate. There are a number of reasons that someone may not receive your email.
- Hard bounce – which is a permanent fail and usually means the email address was invalid – either because it doesn’t exist or there was some kind of typo
- Soft bounce – which could indicate the ISP server couldn’t receive your email or the recipient’s inbox was full
It’s important to monitor this because if you see a trend where these numbers are increasing, it could indicate there is an issue with your data collection options.
Opens, Clicks, and Unsubscribes
Other metrics to be aware of are your open rates, click rates, and unsubscribes. An open rate is directly related to two things 1) the level of brand awareness and trust people have with you 2) how compelling your subject line is. A sudden drop in open rates could indicate a highly irrelevant topic for your audience.
Your click rate is an indication fo how well the content inside your email resonated with your readers. If you have a high open rate and low click rate it could indicate a disconnect between your subject line and content.
It’s important to keep an eye on your unsubscribe rate but don’t be alarmed if people are unsubscribing from your emails. This is common and expected. In fact, most companies retain email engagement for approximately 6 months. For this reason, as well as the natural attrition for an email list is about 25% per year (which is contributed to by unsubscribes and bounces), it’s important to continually grow your email list and remove those who are no longer active.
Keeping an eye on these basic metrics will help you identify opportunities for improvement and catch any issues before they snowball.
Email marketing is an old, but reliable digital marketing tool. By investing in an ESP and taking advantage of the tools and templates they offer you can easily scale your email marketing efforts and reach your goals. By following CAN-SPAM rules and testing your emails you can steadily improve your conversions and leverage your lists to grow and manage your business. A successful email marketing strategy is one that continues to learn and make adjustments to improve results.